The anticipated day has come. John Dehlin has been formally cut off from the LDS church. John has been an ambitious voice and organizer for those who have deep Mormon questions. He has provided a platform for many to share their stories and find people with common concerns and common goals. For some he has shown them how to save their faith. For others he has shown them ways to examine their faith. For many he has become an important part of their life narrative, likely without designing to do so.
Seeing John cut off from the church hurts. Their are lots of opinions and questions being aired. He is being examined and cross-examined again and again. Whether you have grown to love John or not, he is an important and valuable figure in modern Mormon discourse for many and his formal excommunication carries painful weight for those who value his contributions. The discipline brings up anxiety, frustration, anger, confusion, and a variety of other emotions. In this podcast our panel of Joanna Brooks, Dan Wotherspoon, Natasha Parker, and Jennifer Finnlayson-Fife offer some constructive insights and long term perspective that we can use in moving forward in our faith community after this blow.
A Poem for My Brothers and Sisters
by Joanna Brooks
Last night I dreamed I stood
at the edge of the parade route,
my friend Claire at my side,
a shade over our heads,
a ridge of red sandstone mountains against the far horizon.
Then they came in the noonday sun
Our people, so fierce, so tender, so terrible
The men carrying books translated out of air, out of hats, out of hunger,
Eyes straight ahead, unafraid of looking foolish to the world
if it meant they could beat down death.
The women too
Pioneer skirts across the backs of horses
Long guns at their sides
Priestesses they were
Tall, soft spoken, square shouldered
Priestesses of a kind this world has never seen
I tried to tell Claire how proud I was to see them
From the time I was a kid
The way my heart would throw itself against my bones saying
True, true, true
Or was it feeling, feeling, feeling?
I watched it all pass in front of me, trying to find the words,
and just before I woke the words came:
It is worthy of being loved;
It is worthy of being grieved.
The only reason I write is because the words come
The only reason they come is for you
The words came in my dream last night to tell you
That all that we have given to it:
Our dead relatives and our living;
Our black mornings bent over scriptures
mapping a world that never existed;
The homely white clothing we stepped into
to make promises, with words, with hands, with bodies;
How hard we worked to keep them;
How we punished ourselves when we could not.
The hours, the hours, the hours—
How do you begin to count them?
All of it, the grandeur and the failure,
Yours and mine, and that of our people:
It is worthy of being loved
It is worthy of being grieved
You are worthy of being loved
You are worthy of being grieved
You are worthy.